A Novel Way to Treat ED
Useful and fun, you'd think pumps would be more popular.
Posted January 2, 2016 | Reviewed by Lybi Ma
Over-the-counter pumps available from sex toy catalogs produce a benefit no pill, potion, or exercise regimen can offer—real, though brief, increased penis size. In addition, custom-fitted prescription pumps available through urologists offer safe, effective, non-drug treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED).
Temporarily Boost Size
These are hollow clear plastic tubes closed at one end connected to squeeze-bulb hand pumps. Men insert a flaccid or erect penis into the open end, press the mouth of the device against the pelvis, and then squeeze the pump, which creates a semi-vacuum in the tube. Reduced air pressure draws extra blood into the organ, producing a temporarily larger, firmer flaccid penis or erection.
How much larger? Not much, but it’s noticeable.
However, once men remove the pump, air pressure returns to normal, and it doesn’t take long for the penis to revert to its natural size.
How long does the effect last? That depends on four factors: the fit, how vigorously you pump, your cardiovascular health, and how stressed/relaxed you feel:
- Fit. If the base of the pump fits tightly around the base of the penis, then squeezing the hand bulb evacuates most of the air, which improves the draw so more blood enters the penis. But if you have a poor fit, you have a poor vacuum, so less extra blood gets drawn.
- Pumping. Assuming a tight fit, you have to squeeze the bulb vigorously and repeatedly to remove as much air as possible.
- Cardiovascular health. For blood to fill the spongy tissues, the arteries that supply the organ must open (dilate) to allow extra in-flow. Dilation of arteries depends on two things: cardiovascular health and relaxation.
Cardiovascular refers to the heart (cardio) and the blood vessels (vascular), specifically the pudendal arteries that carry blood into the penis. If they are free of cholesterol-rich plaques, then more blood can enter. But if narrowed by plaques, less blood enters the organ even if you work a pump perfectly. Factors that narrow the arteries include smoking, high cholesterol, a personal or family history of heart disease, a high-fat diet, particularly daily consumption of red meats and/or whole-milk dairy products, e.g. milk, cheese, and ice cream.
- Relaxation. Deep, meditative relaxation tends to open the arteries. If you're deeply relaxed, pumps work better than if you're anxious, upset, or stressed.
Pumps cost from $20 to $120.
Vacuum Constriction Devices for ED
Vacuum constriction devices (VCDs) also help treat ED. “Vacuum” refers to the pump apparatus, which is custom-fitted for a seal that’s tighter and, therefore, more effective than sex-toy pumps. “Constriction” refers to the elastic band (penis ring) that users place around pump-produced erections to extend them. VCDs are available only through urologists and cost $200 to $500. Health insurance may help pay for them. Medicare does not.
A urologist invented the VCD in the 1960s. The first commercial device was marketed in 1974. The Food and Drug Administration granted approval for the treatment of ED in 1982, 16 years before Viagra. With proper fit and use, VCDs produce reasonably firm erections in a few minutes.
Several studies have shown that VCD is a reasonably effective treatment for ED. More than half of users report firmness sufficient for intercourse.
VCDs work best in men with some residual erection function in stable long-term relationships with women who support their use. As ED increases and lover support decreases, success rates decline. Side effects are usually minor but include: pain, bruising, and an odd sensation of cold in the head of the penis.
Several studies show that VCDs help men who can’t use erection drugs or for whom the drugs don’t work well. They also have shown benefit in men with diabetic ED.
Don’t Expect Miracles Pumps are fun toys for playing with size and firmness. And if you have a disability that impairs erection, a custom-fitted device might make you firm enough for intercourse. Just remember, the effects are temporary.
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Bosshardt, R.J. et al. “Objective Measurement of the Effectiveness, Therapeutic Success, and Dynamic Mechanisms of the Vacuum Device,” British Journal of Urology (1995) 75:786.
Brison, D. et al. “The Resurgence of the Vacuum Erection Device (VED) for Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction,” Journal of Sexual Medicine (2013) 10:1124.
Derouet, H. et al “Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction with External Vacuum Devices, “ Andrologia (1999) 31(suppl):89.
Lewis, R.W. et al. “External Vacuum Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction: Use and Results,” World Journal of Urology (1997) 15:78.
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Wylie, K.R. et al. “The Potential Benefit of Vacuum Devices Augmenting Psychosexual Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy (2003) 29:227.